Chawton House

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A view of Chawton House Library taken January 2008

Chawton House is a grade ll* listed Elizabethan manor house in the village of Chawton in Hampshire. It was formerly the home of Jane Austen's brother, Edward Austen Knight, and is now a library and study centre.

In 1992 a 125-year lease on the house was purchased for £1.25 million by a foundation established by Sandra Lerner and Leonard Bosack, co-founders of Cisco Systems.[1][2]

The house has been extensively restored and is now The Centre for the Study of Early English Women's Writing, 1600-1830,[3] which runs study programmes in association with the University of Southampton.

It incorporates Chawton House Library, opened in 2003, a collection of over 9,000 books together with related original manuscripts, formerly located in Redmond, Washington, U.S.

Chawton House is the venue of the Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of the United Kingdom.[4]

In 2003 the Jane Austen Society of North America held its 25th Anniversary AGM in the grounds of Chawton House.[5]

The Walled Garden[edit]

Edward Austen Knight had the idea to build a new walled garden during his sister Jane Austen’s lifetime: in 1813, She wrote to her brother Frank:

“He (Edward Austen Knight) talks of making a new Garden; the present is a bad one & ill situated, near Mr Papillon's; — he means to have the new, at the top of the Lawn behind his own house.”

Today, Edward Austen Knight's original walls are mostly still intact. The restoration programme for this area is vast, and requires funding and the support of volunteers as it is the intention to rebuild the glasshouses and potting sheds that have long since fallen into disrepair. The central space is used for the production of vegetables, soft fruits, herbs and flowers. Chawton House is registered with the Soil Association,[6] and is now certified as an organic producer. Everything grown in the walled garden is for use by the Library, with any surplus being sold locally in aid of the charity. The gardens are being restored using Edward Austen Knight's original planting scheme. The walls of the garden still require repair and re-pointing, and work is being done to restore the glasshouses in the near future.

Jane Austen's House[edit]

Jane Austen's House Museum is a large 17th-century house in the centre of the village of Chawton, preserved in her memory, where she spent the last eight years of her life. It is a museum, owned by the Jane Austen Memorial Trust since 1947.[7]

The two houses, Chawton House and Jane Austen's House, are entirely separately run charities. This may not be clear to first time visitors who believe the two sites to be working in concert with each other.

Visiting the House[edit]

The house and Library can be visited by the public by prior appointment. Tours of the house are undertaken Tuesdays and Thursdays starting at 2.30pm.



External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°07′42″N 0°59′19″W / 51.1282°N 0.9885°W / 51.1282; -0.9885